Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Merrick (Late Again)


You know you're the third child when your mother --- on the actual DAY of her other children's birthdays -- posts long, loving picture-filled posts about these babies.

The third child?

Well, she forgot!

Worse yet, she went to Florida for a work conference and MISSED your birthday.

Merrick: "I can't believe you'we leaving me for my biwthday! Don't go!! Cancel that twip!"

Matron: "Honey, it's four days out of nearly 15 years. I really do need to go for work."

Merrick: "Then I'm asking Daddy to stay home."

Matron (same line she uses a lot): "Remember, Daddy and I are on the same team. If one of us says something, the other agrees."

Merrick: "I hate that team."

Honey, she fully appreciates that you do hate that team. But the team is sort of essential to mental health and parental stability.

And darling youngest child, your mother knows this has been a rough couple of months. You were recently (potentially - waiting for the neurologist) diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome. At first, your mother thought it best not to mention this to you until the official confirmation but here's what happened at your 8 year old check-up:

Pediatrician (after observing Merrick for ten minutes during her exam): "Merrick? Mom? Do you mind if I ask another doc to come in and we can play a game with Merrick. Mom, you can watch or wait in the hallway."

Immediately, the Matron knew something was up. How many times do TWO doctors play a 'game' with an 8 year old for his well child check up? It was a nerve wracking game for the mama who watched the the ten minute board game.

Both were in agreement: Tourette Syndrome . And they sprung this on the Matron in front of Merrick -- whose teacher actually called a few days earlier to note that she was worried about the 'tics.'

Teacher: "Mary? Have you noticed that Merrick has some odd habits with his mouth and with blinking? Is he under stress? Other students have started to notice and make comments."

Matron: "I think he needs lip balm and more sleep. But thanks for asking."

And then after the 8 year old well check up in the car on the way home . . .

Merrick: "Do have tuwnip disease? Will I die fwom it?"

Matron (who at this point, fresh on the heels of the diagnosis she knows in her heart to be true, really wants to pull over and throw up and then cry): "No, no. You can't die. It's not turnips but Tourette's. It's when your muscles want to pull. You can't stop it and it's totally okay."

Merrick, in a statement that really did break her heart: "Is that why I need to blink and open my mouth? Sometimes I need to blink weally weally hawd and I can't stop it. And my mouth too. It feels good."

Matron: "It's just who you are. Just like I yawn or wiggle with my hair."

Merrick: "Kind of like Stwyker having braces, wight?"

Matron: "Right. No big deal."

For the rest of her life, the Matron will be grateful to this observant pediatrician who--in ten minutes -- explained many of the things about which the Matron and her husband had been wondering.

Neurology starts in April. This, after five hours of tests last month to follow up on the heart arrhythmia. The irony is that this is her athletic, body-bound kid who can hit a baseball and win a tennis tournament without any effort.

But for Merrick's 8th birthday? A bit of a fork in the road, friends. Guess who plans on heading the National Tourette Syndrome Association in about ten minutes after the official diagnosis. Only half joking and she's now an expert.

Merrick -- The future might have shifted for you. But your mom and dad are steadfastly by your side. You're a beautiful, shining spirit. And that's what everyone sees first.

And it took the Matron a long, long time to decide she could blog about Tourette Syndrome .

My baby.


Shawn Paulson said...

What a sweet boy! Happy Birthday Merrick. You are a very strong and wonderful mother!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My son, who happens to have TS, is probably getting a full-ride offer for water polo to college--and part of what makes him great at sports is that neurological system.

You have my email address.

Happy Birthday to both of you!

Minnesota Matron said...

Jenn -- I'll be emailing, trust me. Thanks for sharing this! My understanding that 1 out of 100 people TS so we're not alone. And better to know at 8 than 14!

jean said...

Happy Birthday Merrick. You are very lucky to have "team" parents. You may not like it now, but in a few years you'll appreciate them so much!

Hang in there Matron.

*m* said...

A diagnosis is scary and daunting, but as I've told my son on the high end of the autistic spectrum, "Everyone's got something." It's true. And like Jenn said, his neurology in all its parts is what makes him -- and Merrick -- the wonderful kid that he is.

Happy birthday to that beautiful boy.

Jen on the Edge said...

Happy birthday Merrick.

We've lived with TS for about eight years now. If you want to ask questions or just talk, holler.

Anonymous said...

I had a middle school student with TS who grimaced and made clicking and grunting noises all the time. It was noticeable during tests when the room was quiet. Not one of my other students even noticed--at least no ever said anything.Fortunately for Merrick, he is a very appealing person which is such an asset. I would rather be likable with TS than be TS free but socially not accepted.

Navhelowife said...

I'm glad you are able to communicate so clearly with your son - he is a lucky little guy to have such good parents!
Wishing him a Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

Those baby pictures make me want to kiss his baby cheeks (and have another baby, yikes!!). I'm glad Jenn already spoke up.
We're in the process of getting an Asperger's diagnosis for our 18yo. Even he agrees he has it, so I wish we'd had one sooner.

Happy birthday to Merrick (and his team parents)!

Mary said...

I hope everything turns out okay for you all, he is a sweet baby!

Anonymous said...

He's wonderful. Many happy returns of the day to him! (And he's on a good team!)

Anonymous said...

I understand the shock it was to your system. My 8 year old was just diagnosed with MCTD and arthritis, both autoimmune disorders. what a blow, and how quickly my brain flashed through the dozens of times in the past year when I thought arthritis might be the problem and I brushed it away.

Good luck to you and your family on this journey.

ilyanna said...

Happy birthday to Merrick, and best of luck. We're all pulling for you, and proud of you for your openness and great parenting.

Sue said...

Happy Birthday, Merrick! And I agree with what "M" says, below -
"Everyone's got something." I really believe that is true.

Daisy said...

Do you read World's Strongest Librarian? You need to. http://worldsstrongestlibrarian.com/

MJ said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes. Happy belated birthday, Merrick. You've got a lot of love in that family of yours!

another mary said...

Hi Mary,
We are all thinking about you-all and Merrick and very Happy Birthday to him!! He is very much a bright light in your life and whatever this blip means, he will keep shining!

Erin said...

This made me cry, in a Mom sort of way. My twins were diagnosed with autism a week before Christmas- they are 2. I will never forget sitting in my chair, nursing my 4 month old while the early intervention folks were telling me what they thought our next steps should be. It's a ride! So glad for proactive teachers and doctors that have fallen into our path since then.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Merrick! You are so loved by your mom and dad and sister and brother, not to mention all your mom's blog friends.

Mary, I hope Merrick's teacher is on board with how to talk to Merrick and her other students about this. Sounds like a teachable moment to me.

Dorothy said...

Happy Birthday to Merrick. I have a feeling he will not let TS keep him down. He has way too much spirit. Have you seen the Hallmark movie Front of the Class. I found it very moving.

Suburban Correspondent said...

It's all been said. God bless you and God bless all these wonderful commenters.

Anonymous said...

I am a grandmother of two grandsons M who is 12 and J who is 10. They both have TS. M was diagnosed when he was 3 and J when he was 4. Over the last 8 years M has had a number of different tics. Now he is just twitchy, his verbal tics have subsided. J has a blinking tic which gets worse when he is excited or stressed. They are both beautiful children, very smart with great humor. Some kids tease them, others do do not. In 5th grade M was voted by his peers and teachers as one of the outstanding students of the year.
My son was strongly opposed to using drugs to control the
tics. He did a lot of reading on the subject and felt the
drugs were worse than living with TS. There is a lot of
controversy about drug use. There is a ton of material on
line about this. The book "Against Medical Advice" by
James Patterson, is a hard read, but it surely makes one think about the use of drugs for TS.
OCD is often associated with TS, neither of my grandsons have this. They both would like their tics to go away, but they also know there are worse things in life than TS. What has helped them is knowing there are other people out there with TS that have lived great lives.
I hope this helps you. My point of this comment, I guess was to let you know that Merrick and your family are not alone. My grandsons are awesome kids who just happen to have TS and Merrick is an awesome kid who just happens to have TS. Enough said.l

Magpie said...

Happy birthday - and I hope everything works out okay. Juggling Jenn's comment is kind of fascinating.

Anonymous said...

As a mom of a recently diagnosed, just-turned-7 kid with autism, I truly understand some of what's going on with dear Merrick. It is not a shock to us, it explains many things, but it still breaks your heart for your child. My Lucas is a sweet, affectionate child and I'm still so happy he's mine.

hope505 said...

Your boy is, indeed, a charming little dude. With 2 "R"s in his name, and at the age of 8, I do hope you'll consider a speech pathologist for him at some point? I take it that you're attempting to show your son's dialect by typing those "W"s in the R slots of the words?

You're doing him a disservice by not helping him with that. He may be the sweetest thing on Sugar mountain, but he may have a real problem with that speech impedement later in life ~ and you CAN help him with it now, even with Tourettes, if that is, in fact, the correct diagnosis.